The most common definition of sustainability is meeting our needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Most of the time, sustainability is thought of in the context of the environment, but there are actually three pillars of sustainability that must be addressed: Social (people), Environment (planet), and Economy (profit). All three of these must be taken into account when focusing on sustainable development – i.e. we cannot sustain our environment without sustaining people and the economy as well. This means many different things for us, for example:
- Using the earth’s natural resources, but not to the point where future generations cannot use them.
- Allowing for economic growth, but not in a way that makes it harder for future generations to live here.
- Feeding the current population while taking into account the future generations’ need to feed their population.
Global sustainability is a huge undertaking and one that is exceptionally hard to solve. But there are things we can do at home and in our community to help in sustainable development, for example:
- Produce less waste by composting, purchasing used items instead of new, recycling, fixing something instead of throwing it away, using reusable grocery bags, etc
- Emit less greenhouse gases by installing solar panels, driving less (or driving an electric car), switching to energy efficient light bulbs, eating less meat, etc.
- Take care of our community’s natural resources by planting native trees, removing invasive plants, cutting our water use, installing rain barrels, etc.
Here are a few websites to visit if you’d like to learn more about sustainability/sustainable development.
- Learn more about the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals
- Learn more about the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s approach to sustainability
- Learn more about the history of sustainable development
- Learn more about Blacksburg’s Sustainability Department
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